1071. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [25 May 1805]

1071. Robert Southey to John Rickman, [25 May 1805] ⁠* 

Dear Rickman

The inclosed being with its inclosure wholly de le mea, [1]  – ergo I do not pay the postage under your favour.

My first impulse upon reading Gobwins [2]  Gobwinianism was to write him a cutting reply [3]  – but it was <not> worth the half hours cost of time. He is a great fool – for – in the first place he can have no proof that I am the offender sufficient to authorize his epistle – secondly he is a fool to suppose that because I meet him once in two or three years at dinner at Carlisles that I am bound not to say what I think of his books – & thirdly he is a damned fool to suppose it is lawful for him to abuse me verbatim (as in the memorable evening with Coleridge at Lambs). & not for me to retaliate literatum. – His indignant eye which he talks of, gives a hint for a fine caricature – the eye of indignation in spectacles!

I neither am <going> nor have ever designed to go to Bristol. Danvers is coming here – & that may perhaps be the cause of the mistake. – I have been idle for some days from indisposition & still continue ailing. my chance of seeing London this year is so compleatly over that I must send for a few books ere long – sorely against my will.

Jeremy Bentham certainly had a parl. report about his Pantopticon – for in some such folio foolscap size & such House of Commons-type did Wynn show it me – but it is some years old, & so I suppose gone the way of all such proceedings. [4] 




* Address: To/ John Rickman Esqr
Endorsement: RS./ May 25. 1805
MS: Huntington Library, RS 74. ALS; 2p.
Dating note: Southey dates the letter ‘Saturday’ and 25 May was a Saturday in 1805. BACK

[1] Meaning ‘belonging to me’. BACK

[2] Southey’s habitual misspelling of William Godwin’s name was meant to suggest his mouthiness. BACK

[3] For the text of Godwin’s letter, see Southey to John Rickman, 18 May 1805, Letter 1067, note 1. BACK

[4] In his 18 May letter (Letter 1067) Southey had asked Rickman, as secretary to the Speaker of the House of Commons, to procure a report on the Panopticon prison scheme of Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832; DNB). The scheme was discussed in parliament and a bill passed in 1794 providing for the building of a penitentiary at Battersea, London. In 1798, with the building delayed, a committee of the House of Commons issued a favourable report on Bentham’s scheme. The discussions are reported in the Journals of the House of Commons, XLIV, 633–634. BACK